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Synthesis of high-performance hierarchically porous carbons from rice husk for sorption of phenol in the gas phase

Shen, Yafei, Zhang, Niyu, Fu, Yuhong
Journal of environmental management 2019 v.241 pp. 53-58
activated carbon, adsorption, biochar, biomass, boiling point, desorption, electrostatic interactions, gasification, hydrophobicity, industrial wastewater, liquids, models, moieties, nanoparticles, pellets, phenol, potassium hydroxide, pyrolysis, rice hulls, silica, vapors, volatile organic compounds
Phenol as a semi-volatile organic compound (SVOC) extensively presents in industrial wastewater. Moreover, it is a main compound of tar existing in the vapor phase from biomass pyrolysis or gasification. So far, most of works on the phenol adsorption by activated carbons have been conducted in the liquid phase. However, the adsorption of phenol in the gas phase has not been reported. This work aims to synthesize the hierarchically porous carbons from the unaltered and pelletized rice husk (RH) via a facile pyrolysis followed by the ball-milling-assisted KOH activation. Herein, the silica nanoparticles in RH acted as a self-template to remarkably increase specific surface areas and pores, thereby giving rise to the formation of hierarchically porous carbons, which showed a relatively high adsorption capacity (maximum value: 1919 mg/g) of phenol in the vapor phase. Generally, the process of phenol adsorption onto porous carbons in the gas phase followed with various interactions, including pore filling, electrostatic interaction, hydrophobic effect, and functional groups effect (e.g., π-π interaction). And the pseudo-second-order model could well describe the adsorption kinetic. It is noted that the pelletized RH was more favorable to develop the porous carbons with the hierarchically meso-microporous structures that could enhance the transfer of the phenol molecules via the outer layer and subsequent uptake by the adsorption sites on the inner layer. Further, the SVOC phenol was hard to volatilize under ambient conditions due to its relatively higher boiling point (181.7 °C), so the thermal desorption was a potential way to regenerate the spent activated biochars.